Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tuesday's Reflection: Beach Time

I have always wanted to live somewhere with a water view; preferably, by big water. In a way that doesn't make sense, for I am not a great swimmer and will do most anything not to wear a swimsuit. I do own one, but it is tucked away in a dresser drawer. I don't fish or boat, and I certainly do not walk on water. However, I love being in sight of water, having water as one of the boundaries or edges of my immediate life. 

My first years were in Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes, where  one is never far from a lake and on the weekends in summer the recurrent theme is "going to the lake," the lake of your choice. My family would spend one or two weeks at a resort on Lake Nisswa, a not so very big lake, but I have fond memories of sleeping on the screen porch and hearing the waves lapping the sandy beach at night and during the day floating on an air mattress to some dreamy location in my fantasy life. 

When I was in seventh grade, we moved to Long Island, and I think that is when my attraction to water, big water, really began. I could bike from our house to a small beach where Nathan Hale, a spy against the British in the Revolutionary War, supposedly landed during the Battle of Long Island. The move to Long Island was a difficult one for me, but watching the water soothed some of my loneliness. 

While I have never managed to live with a water view, I have relished visits to beaches, even celebrating my 50th birthday by doing Tai Chi on a beach in Zanzibar.  Could it get any better than that! Most recently, we visited friends in Florida and our days on the beach were among the most pleasurable of our getaway time. (My apologies to all of you who are buried under snow and deluged with rain or are layered in wool, thanks to cold, cold temperatures.) 

What is it about the water that resonates with me more than the beauty of mountains or forests? Why is it that when in the presence of water I feel most at home with myself?

For one thing I love the vastness, the spaciousness. While others are bothered by the inability to see the other side, I am attracted to the openness, the unknown of what might be ahead. I know it will be a mixed bag, for loss can not be avoided, but I also know there will be gifts and opportunities I am too limited to imagine. 

One of our beach days was marked with high waves. Such entertainment, including surfers, who perhaps had called in "sick" for the day and little children holding a parent's hand, wanting to venture forth, but not quite daring. I sat there listening to the sound of the waves, a sound that covered all the monkey mind thoughts that normally rattle around my head. I normally yearn for quiet and stillness, but in this time and place, it was the waves announcing themselves over and over along the shore that created free space in my mind. 

Each wave erased whatever was written in the sand and pulled out to sea what needed to be released. I followed each wave surging to the shore as if it were the first one, and when it receded, I renewed my own ability to retreat and recreate, to begin again. I felt an exchange in those waves--if you let me carry you, I will refresh and restore you. 

When we lived in New York, the chart for high tide and low tide was hung on the inside of a kitchen cabinet. The tides were part of everyday conversation even if you weren't a fisherman. It clarified the best time to go to a beach and which beach to choose.  As we sat on the beach the other day and the waves slid higher along the shore, we knew we were approaching High Tide. 

We have all had High Tide, but also Low Tide times in our life; times when our energy or our feelings are at their peak or just the opposite. It isn't always as clear as a line in the sand where we are, however, until we look back, until the transition from one to the other is underway. Until we can see the shore with a new perspective. Being near water stretches my perceptions of myself and those around me and the life I am privileged to have.

Walking along a beach during our recent vacation in Florida, I said to my husband, "I could live here." I felt wistful and sad as I said that. Knowing that seeing water as I look out my kitchen window  has not been part of my everyday life nor will it be touches something very deep within. I don't know what I would have had to do earlier in my life to fulfill that longing, but at this stage in my life it is enough to acknowledge it and to listen to the waves I sense washing over my soul.  

An Invitation
What is the landscape of your soul? Do you know why? In what kind of setting do you feel most at home, most yourself? I would love to know. 

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